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The secret to higher scoring
Are we the most fortunate people in sport today?

I ask this question with sincerity and I will answer with all honesty, trying to give an insight into one of the most serious aspects of becoming not only a professional player but a better player of any standing that you find yourself in.

 
I am fortunate to have started playing dart before the introduction of tungsten darts, I feel quite sorry for you players who missed the brass dart era, it was very special.

OK I now have to explain, brass had and still does have a sense of feel like no other material used in the making of darts, you do not have to roughen the barrels, nor cover them in chalk to find that grip that will not allow the darts to slip in your hands, no, the make up and feel of brass always allows you to feel like the dart and you are one and yet at the point of release the brass dart will leave your hand in the smoothest of motions.

Of course the past belongs where it is and sadly the brass dart belongs in that era, time and development waits for no one.

Vintage Unicorn Brass Darts

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The era of tungsten came along in 1970, Barry Twomlow had won the News of the World Championship the previous year with a set of Unicorn brass darts, Barry and Unicorn realised the importance of retaining the weight of the darts and at the same time reducing the darts in volume to allow greater visual sight of the highest scoring parts of the dart board, in particular treble twenty and the bulls eye.

The answer, Tungsten, three times the density of brass, the result, an identical set of darts to the brass darts chosen only half the size in width, the down side, the feel and grip that belonged to the brass dart had to be introduced via grooves, knurls and in some cases bucket fulls of chalk, all to find that feel that makes the dart as one with the player. The amount 180's increased instantly and players became to accept without question that Tungsten darts where the norm.

Twomlow and Lloyd

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I strove for 20 years to recreate the brass feel and texture, the ones who have watched me play for many years know that I lick the index finger of my throwing hand before I grip the dart, this is my way of putting the feel needed into the action of throwing the dart.

Thankfully the brass dart look alike was introduced by Unicorn around 1990, the Titanium Tungsten Dart, a revolution in manufacturing.

I was amazed to witness the way Titanium is introduced to the Tungsten barrels.

The tungsten barrels are placed into a vacuum chamber, the titanium is placed along side (imagine a piece of titanium the size of a small dice) the chamber is switched on and the titanium disappears before your eyes, then the molecules reform around the tungsten barrels leaving them gold in colour, hey presto magic if ever there was any.

Today just like yesterday, Unicorn Products became the first company to launch the next era of darts, the Titanium Tungsten Dart and guess what, they have the feel of the old and first era of darts, the brass dart.
I have illustrated to you the use of materials in the development of darts through the ages so you may understand that a dart is not just a dart, it is an extension of yourself, only when it is released do you experience that feeling of confidence that it will hit or be very close to hitting the small target area that you are aiming for.

If that feeling is substituted for a feeling of "I hope it goes in the twenty" then maybe you should consider the simple fact that you are using the wrong dart.

It may appear that there are hundreds of dart on the market, the fact is that there are only a few, the thin dart, the chubbier dart, the front loaded dart, the back loaded dart and the gimmick dart.

Weights of course come in many different groups, from as little as 12grams to 35grams, I try to explain weights to players in simple terms, a gram is equal in weight to a paper tissue, the player who plays more frequently needs a lighter dart to obtain a sense of feel, the player who competes on a one night a week darts league level needs a heavier dart, this eliminates the need to practice regularly, in simple terms the heavier the dart is (within a comfortable range) it will go to the board straighter than a lightweight dart which needs shall we say guidance.

The many hundreds of dart on display today are only different in looks and feel, the marketing of dart is very important, the better they look the more chance someone will buy them and believe me the better they look and feel works wonders for your confidence, I am very much a visual person when it comes to owning a set of darts, they are the tools of my trade and I feel fortunate when realising the stock of my trade (unlike many others, Skiing for example) will fit into my pocket.

 
I like to be able to see my flight when the dart goes into the board, hence I use a coloured flight, black I find hides within the colour of the board and does not leave a visual target to aim at, I try very hard to keep all the dart from the barrel through the stem to the flight in a one tone colour, this gives me the sense of feeling that the dart is a one piece unit, four separate pieces of engineering and manufacturing that when assembled become one article,
so far because of the nature of the different materials used in the four components that go into producing the modern day dart it has been impossible to produce the same colour in all four components, in my case gold, maybe we are not to far away from that next step in the development of the dart.
I have tried to introduce you to the side of darts that is ignored by many, the feel, the touch, that can make all the difference between playing at a proficient level or a efficient level and I presume it is the latter that you are aiming for.

I recommend that when you purchase the next set of darts you try out the feel, the texture, the thought of a smooth release without drag and of course consider the weight.

I recommend that you find a sports shop that sells the Unicorn range of darts, they are manufactured to the very highest standard and they give a written guarantee that each barrel is to within one quarter of a gram minus or plus of each other.

When you have purchased your darts do not be afraid to experiment with the various options open to you, smaller stems, different shape flights and of course the colour co ordination, do be careful when adding the many extra gimmicks, flight protectors etc. darts are meant to be balanced to hold their correct projectory, placing weight at the end of the flight can completely change this.
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Well if I have managed to give you an insight into the making and improving the understanding of the basics of darts, I am more than happy, I will introduce more in depth thoughts on the technique of darts over the coming months, I leave you with one tip, always hold your darts in your hand when you are not playing whenever possible, this retains the feel that I have spoken about so much in this article, I cannot express how important it is to your game.
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Enjoy your game.
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